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What advisers are saying: A bit more context on my research rant


They say the four hardest tasks in the world are: To return love for hate, to include the excluded, to forgive without apology and to be able to say: “I was wrong.”

Back to the bit about being wrong in a minute. First, ever wondered who in the world ‘They’ are? They sound pretty authoritative but their definitive musings are also irritatingly non-contestable. For instance, how do you get in touch? No phone number, no email, not even a Twitter account run by ‘Their’ admin team. How about a little transparency, guys?

So anyway, I was wrong.  The week before last, I panned a piece of research claiming (I incorrectly read) that 42 per cent of advisers are worried about covering their costs but that fewer than 10 per cent are bothered about ensuring clients get value for money. Not only that, but I rather gracelessly penned “I think we’ll respect-fully say that’s nonsense”. Even if it had been true, that’s a pretty punchably smug way of putting it. So sorry for that too.  

Luckily, the chaps at Action Consulting were gracious enough to explain in more detail what the research really unearthed.

In its report, Action Consulting said: “Fewer than one in 10 are concerned [not ‘bothered’ per my scurrilous musings] about ensuring that clients get value for money from the ongoing service.” By this, they were trying to imply the rather more positive news that over 90 per cent of advisers weren’t concerned that they might not be giving value for money, not that 90 per cent weren’t bothered about clients getting value for money!

Rather different from my portrayal. And here’s the kicker – my epilogue warned, in relation to robust analysis, that “context is required. As are appropriate methodologies and sensible (rather than sensationalist) interpretation of data.” Oops. 

So it seems I have (ironically) rather fallen foul of my own standard. For which I apologise a third time.

Benjamin Franklin wrote “Never ruin an apology with an excuse” so I won’t. But being wrong and being sorry are also absolutely necessary for all of us on the path to success, no matter what our business is. 

The secret isn’t to avoid being wrong. The secret is being willing to be wrong and, as Seth Godin said, “realising that wrong isn’t fatal” – as long as you’re willing to hold your hands up, admit it and say sorry when appropriate.

Phil Wickenden is managing director of So Here’s The Plan



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